The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team secured their first victory in Group F as they defeated Guyana 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon at the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Playing their second game in two days, the local boys were looking to capitalize on a positive performance against Group F favourites El Salvador on Sunday evening. Confidence was high against Guyana, a team that had slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Guatemala in the group’s opening game, but football is a cruel sport and results count for nothing once teams take the field.
The local boys began the game on the defensive as the Guyanese moved the ball with fluidity around the field, frequently switching flanks with crisp, pin-point passing. Cayman appeared disjointed and were finding it very difficult to settle into their game. Passes were going astray and mistakes were being made and it was from one such mistake t hatGuyana took the lead.
In the 5th minute, a Guyanese attacker capitalized on a poor defensive pass to blast a shot past Cayman’s Albertini Holness in goal - 1-0 to Guyana. Frustrated, the local boys were determined to make amends for their poor start but failed to take control of the game as Guyana continued to dominate possession.
In the 36th minute, the Cayman coaching staff made a tactical switch as Corey Mellaneo made way for Rohelio Wright.
In the 43rd minute, the Islanders were awarded a penalty as Leighton Thomas was upended in the Guyanese penalty area. Cayman’s experienced shot stopper Albertini Holness stepped up to send the Guyanese goal keeper the wrong way and tie the score at 1-1.
With the half time whistle came a reprieve for the local boys. Their performance so far was not up to their usual standard but they were still in the game.
The second half began much the same as the first with Guyana dominating much of the possession. In the 57th minute, Kameron Mendez replaced Leighton Thomas to inject a little more pace up front. Almost immediately, the local boys took the lead as Kareem Foster was quickest to a loose ball in the Guyanese penalty area before neatly placing his shot past the outstretched hands of the Guyanese shot stopper.
Unfortunately, Cayman’s lead only lasted two minutes as Guyana equalized in the 59th minute capitalizing on yet another lapse in the Cayman defence.
With the score locked at two a piece, play swung from end to end as both nations ‘clawed and scratched’ for the winner and the resulting three points.
In the 67th minute, a most unlikely hero emerged for the Cayman Islands as left back Jabari Campbell settled this encounter with a near perfect shot from just outside the penalty area that hit the underside of the cross bar before crossing the goal line. Cayman were up 3-2 and although there were opportunities for both nations to add to the score line, it was not to be.
A first tournament victory for the Islanders and although it was not a stellar performance, the three points were a welcome reward for a tough morning of football.
The Cayman Islands’ remaining games in the 2018 CONCACAF Under 20 Men’s Championships include Guatemala on Thursday, November 8th and Curacao on Saturday, November 10th.